This list of travel essentials for women includes all the items that a girl shouldn’t travel without.
It took me years of traveling and carrying heavy backpacks to master the art of packing – and even more so the art of packing light. No matter how much thought and effort I’d put in my packing, there always used to be something I’d forget to bring; something that I brought but was never used; something that was completely out of place and some things that were just too much.
If you are a girl about to embark on a trip – short or long, it doesn’t matter – you’ll be relieved to know that I have this female packing list thing finally nailed. You can count on me to tell you what to bring and what to leave behind, and to share a bunch of useful travel packing tips.
Are you heading on a long term trip? Make sure to read my post “All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel.”
In this post, I will tell you all the travel essentials for women that you should take with you, and share a few packing tips for female travelers.
9 Useful Packing Tips For Female Travelers
Pack light – no matter how long you are traveling for
Whether you are traveling for a month or just for a long weekend, you need to minimize the amount of stuff you take with you. Remember that there will be times when you’ll have to walk a few blocks to get to your hotel; or your accommodation won’t have an elevator or someone to help you with your luggage. The heavier your bag, the harder it is to carry it around.
Regardless of the duration of your trip, don’t pack more than 12 kgs!
A backpack is always a good idea
After having had to dodge a suitcase in the streets of Havana and Trinidad, avoiding potholes and dragging it on cobbled alleys, I have resolved to always use a backpack. Unless you are being taken from door to door and don’t have to worry about carrying a suitcase at all, a backpack is always a better option for it allows you to move more easily and it is much easier to carry up a flight of stairs.
Use a small backpack as a carry on
During one of my last trips with my sister, I was using a small backpack as a carry on, while she had her usual small rolling suitcase. As we were going through security, she was stopped by the airline personnel who demanded to weight her bag and forced her to re-distribute her stuff (she had to take several things out) so that it didn’t weight as much. They didn’t even bother looking at me and my backpack. Yet, I am convinced it actually weighted more than my sister’s suitcase.
Backpacks attract less attention and they are rarely checked for weight – probably because considered less obtrusive. Invest in a small backpack as a carry on, and ditch the small rolling suitcase!
Pack a change of clothes in your carry on
Luggage gets lost occasionally and you may get stuck in a city you don’t know, after a very long flight, desperately looking for some clean clothes and a change of underwear in shops you don’t know. Always pack a change of clothes in your carry on – something you can count on until your bag is delivered to you. Keep it simple – a pair of leggings and a t-shirt, or a light dress, and some clean underwear and socks.
Don’t put all your money in one place
If you are carrying lots of cash with you, don’t put it all in one place! Put some in your purse and some in your main backpack – if you get robbed, you will at least have something for small expenses until you get your documents sorted.
Keep in mind the places you are visiting
Are you visiting cities and archeological sites, or will you be hiking up mountains? Are you going to the least explored regions of the Amazon, to the Andes or to Antartica? Keep your destination in mind when packing.
The clothes you should bring with you vary greatly depending on the regions you are visiting. In some cases you will be crossing several climates (that’s when packing becomes even more of a challenge), and you’ll have to be prepared for all of them.
For detailed, regional packing lists, check the following posts:
- “Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List.”
- “Hiking Gear And More: The Perfect Patagonia Packing List.”
- “What To Wear On Safari – The Ultimate Packing List For Africa.”
Make sure to also consider whether the places you are visiting are off the beaten path – off the beaten path places are fantastic to visit, but you usually can’t get hold of things you may need there.
Consider the style of your trip
Are you traveling independently or will you be joining a guided group tour? Will you be using public transportation much, or are you only counting on private transfers or a car rental? Are you covering long distances by plane, or will you be catching night trains?
First of all, whenever possible opt for trains over planes – it will lower your carbon footprint.
Make sure to read my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
If you are traveling by plane, you will need to keep in mind the baggage restrictions and regulations. Please remember that different airports in different parts of the world will have different security checking procedures. If traveling within Europe, you can consult the website of the European Commission.
If you are using public transportation, packing light is even more important. You won’t have the comfort of a car or shuttle picking you up directly from your hotel and loading the bags for you, and on some occasions you’ll have to run to catch a train or bus that is departing.
If yours going to be an adventurous trip, with a lot of hiking, or do you plan to just sit at the beach or at most explore an archeological style or a city? Whatever you carry with you will change depending on what you plan to do while traveling. If you are going hiking, you will have to take your boots with you. And you can’t wear bright clothes on a safari.
Are you planning a long distance hike? Head over to my post “The Perfect Hiking Packing List For A Long Distance Trek.”
Unless you are traveling to attend a conference, an event or a business meeting, you should leave your fancy clothes at home. Bring pants and shirts that can be layered and matched with different items to create a variety of outfits, and that can be layered easily. Take stuff that packs small, that doesn’t require ironing and that you can easily wash. Bring a t-shirt or a dress that you can easily dress up or down. And remember that nobody will think any less of you if you don’t wear heels.
Leave that hair dryer at home
Much like you don’t need to be dressed up while traveling, you definitely don’t need to have perfectly styled hair as well. That is to say, leave that hair dryer and curling iron at home. In any case, most hotel rooms nowadays have a hair drier and if they don’t, reception will lend you one.
All The Travel Essentials For Women You Can’t Travel Without
The number one in the list of travel essentials for women is a good backpack. You won’t ever find me recommending a rolling suitcase. Unless I am staying at a luxury hotel, I won’t ever use one. In fact, most of the time I opt for a backpack no matter the kind of hotel where I am staying.
When it comes to backpacks, you really want to opt for something that is big enough to carry your stuff, but not so huge to be impossible to lift. Your backpack should be:
- Light and at the same time sturdy
- Waterproof or at least with a rain cover – this is important if you travel during rain season
- With padded shoulders and hip bands
- With plenty of side pockets to keep things separate and within easy reach
- Opening like a suitcase as well as from top and bottom
- Adjusted to your body size – this is probably the most important thing!
Make sure to try the backpack before purchasing it. However, keep in mind that it won’t be the same thing as actually packing it. Which is why love Osprey. They have an app you can download and input your body size and type to pick the best backpack for you. That’s who I ended up with my Ariel 65, which is just perfect for me. I also have a Berghaus Wilderness 60+15 which I find is too big for someone my size.
These are my favorite backpacks in the range of 60 to 70 liters:
- Osprey Kyte 66
- Ariel 65 – my overall favorite.
- Atmos AG 65 – I love its air flowing belt.
- Ariel pro – a very light backpack.
- Berghaus Wilderness 60+15 – good if you are a tall girl.
- Berghaus Trailhead 65 – a bit smaller than the wilderness, they also have it in 60 liters.
A good daypack is just as important in the list of travel essentials for women. It’s what you’ll carry with you on the plane, what you will use during the day while exploring, and what you will take with you while hiking.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll often be wearing your daypack in front of you. Some backpacks are very comfortable to wear – just not in the front. So for example my Osprey Daylite Plus is a great small backpack for a hike, but its handle is such that I can’t really wear it in the front without choking myself.
My favorite daypacks are:
- Zomake Lightweight – it’s foldable, very light and comes in many colors to match your clothes.
- Osprey Skarab 22 – a very good daypack with plenty of pockets to organize your stuff. It’s excellent for short hikes.
- Twentyfourseven 20 by Berghaus – perfect for a day in the city as well as a short hike.
You can also pack a very small purse to use during the day. It should be small enough to be comfortable to carry around, but at the same time pack your phone, wallet, and anything else you may need for the day.
Packing cube have recently made my list of travel essentials for women. I love how they help me keep my backpack tidy and organized. I recommend using one for your t-shirts, one for your underwear and one for your cables and camera equipment.
Ziploc bags are one of the biggest travel essentials for women, because they have several uses. I normally use them to pack any toiletries that may leak.
The tech stuff
If you are a photography geek, you will want to include a good camera and a couple of lenses in your female packing list.
This is the camera gear I normally travel with:
- A good DSLR camera. I use a Nikon D3300.
- A good lens such as the 18-105 mm, perfect for wide angle and a bit of a distance. I also use a 70-300 mm for wildlife photos.
- A few spare memory cards.
If you are not obsessed with photography, buy a good compact mirrorless camera. If you have an excellent smartphone, you can even just use that.
Miscellaneous tech items to add to female packing list
Other items that are travel essentials for women include:
- A smartphone – you’ll use it to talk to your family and friends at home; to take photos; and to guide you through apps such as Google Maps. Make sure it is unlocked, in case you need to buy a local SIM card.
- A reliable power bank – in case you need to charge your phone on the go.
- A universal plug adapter – depending on where you are traveling to, this is vital.
- A kindle – a must if you love reading. Make sure to get one with a built in light so you can read at night too.
- A lock – to keep your stuff safe, especially if you opt to stay in a dorm. Pick one that has a combination – so that you don’t have to worry about the key.
Comfortable yet pretty clothes are the best thing when traveling. I am a huge fan of Kuhl clothes because they are very comfortable, perfect for hiking but also for sightseeing, easy to wash and dry and at they make me feel pretty.
My list of travel essentials for women includes clothes that you can layer to wear even on colder climates:
- 3 pairs of pants, best if in colors you can easily match. I love Horizn Convertible and Splash roll-uppants. Convertible pants are a great solution if you think you will need shorts at some point.
- A pair of shorts. I love Kuhl Cabo shorts.
- Depending on where you travel, a combination of 6 long and short sleeves t-shirts. I suggest picking 100% cotton shirts for the summer ones, and cotton mixed with wool for colder climates. Throw in a thermal shirt if you are going to a very cold place. I often wear my Kuhl Intent Hoody, and the Kleo Hoody shirt. I have both in a few colors. For short sleeves I pack the Kuhl Acacia and Kuhl Sona t-shirt.
- A comfortable t-shirt and a pair of leggings – they can be used as a pajama.
- A tank top or two, to wear on warmer days. I like Katrin Tank.
- A sweater or preferably a micro fleece – the latter are very lightweight. Also take the Kuhl Alskafor extra warmth and a Lea Pulloverfor something more casual and easywear.
- 6 pairs of very comfortable underwear and just about the same number of socks. Throw in also a couple of pairs or hiking socks if you plan to hike.
- A sports bra and a normal one.
- A rain and windproof jacket or a poncho. I have Kuhl Hydroflex.
- If your trip requires a warmer jacket, opt for Kuhl Skyfire Down Parka.
- A hat or a beanie.
- A light scarf – you can use it when it is cold, or to cover your shoulders if you are visiting churches or temples.
- A swimsuit, if your trip has some beach or pool time.
- A pretty dress. I love Kuhl dresses as they are comfortable, easy to wear and with the right accessories they can become nice and fancy. I love the Kandid Dress.
I have some news for you! You don’t really need to pack 5 pairs of shoes. Are you shocked?
Ok, just kidding. The bottom line here is that much like for the clothes, when deciding which shoes to bring with you you have to think of the things you are going to do during your trip. If you are going to hike, hiking boots are a must. Also bring a pair of flip flops (perfect for the beach and to shower) and a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
These are some good shoes to add to your female packing list:
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX – they are fabulous hiking boots.
- A pair of flip flops or walking sandals
- A pair of good walking shoes such as Tropicfeel
- If you really want to feel all fancy take a pair of flats. They pack really small.
A list of travel essentials for women is bound to include a good dose of personal care items. Make sure to get yourself a good toiletry bag like this one – something you can hang and that has pockets to store all your toiletries and keep them separate. Other than the obvious, make sure to pack the following:
- Sunscreen with very high SPF
- Hand sanitizer
- Solid shampoo – it’s much lighter and smaller to carry than liquid one, and it’s great on your hair!
- Solid conditioner – for the same reasons.
- Tea tree oil: perfect to put on insect bites and on minor cuts.
- A menstrual cup – it produces zero waist and thus is much more environmentally friendly, and you won’t have to worry about having to buy tampons, liners and the like. The only recommendation I have is to pick something that fits you in terms of size and feel, or else wearing it is a real hassle.
First Aid Kit
Make sure to add first aid kit with at least some basic medications and your prescription drugs to your female packing list. You should include the following:
- basic pain relief medicines such as paracetamol.
- imodium or any other diarrhea medication.
- bandaids and other bandages.
- antiseptic wipes and cream.
- cortizone cream.
Miscellaneous items to add to your female packing list
Other things you should be including among your travel essentials for women:
- A personal safety alarm – it’s small to carry and easy to use. In case of emergency, you press it and it sounds very loud, attracting attention.
- A quick dry towel – for those beach days
- Ear plugs and eye mask – to help you sleep
- Head lamp
- Water bottle and filter – because you want to use less plastic
- Pins and clothing line – this isn’t essential actually, unless you hand-wash your stuff
- Sewing kit – for fixing stuff on the go. Some of them are tiny!
- Guide book – if you need to look for quick info about your destination but have no internet
- Notebook – if you like keeping a diary while traveling.
- Spare cash – keep it separate from your wallet.
- Spare passport photos – for that SIM card you may want to get.
By all means, among the female travel essentials that should never be missing there is a good travel insurance. If you are still unsure whether you need it, make sure to read my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Otherwise, you can get a good travel insurance here.
Are there any other items that should be included among these travel essentials for women?
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